We love getting outside as often as we can, but to stay warm and safe, winter adventures in the Catskills require careful planning and preparation
Stay dry and waterproof with the right clothinG Make sure you manage your core temperature while hiking to prevent sweating, which gets your clothes wet and limits their insulative value. Wear gaiters to help keep your legs dry, when trekking through overhanging trees, pop your hood over your head to prevent snow from getting in at the neck and getting you wet.
Winter is the wrong time to think you need to pack lightly Carry many insulating layers, including a spare set of long underwear tops and bottoms – putting on fresh, dry clothes mid-hike may shock the system initially, but you will feel warmer quickly.
Make sure your equipment works -- discovering your water bottle is cracked when it is 10 below at lunchtime is worse than a bummer.
Be aware that solid food items freeze Cut up those snickers bars ahead of time. Even cold cuts on a sandwich can freeze!
Drink constantly You will not feel as thirsty in cold weather and could become dehydrated without realizing it.
Know how to repair cross-country ski, snowshoe and crampon/creeper bindings You don’t want to be stuck miles from the trailhead with broken equipment that can’t be repaired.
Don’t use those ski pole wrist loops If you go one way and your ski pole stays put, a downhill fall can wrench a shoulder.
Ideally know your winter hike ahead of time Trail finding is tricky with deep snow, so knowing the route well is a good idea. It is often best to start your winter hiking on trails you already know well from the summer adventures.
Favor hikes with few stream crossings Crossings are dangerous as a water hazard and they also make you vulnerable to soaking everything you are wearing and carrying. Even just getting your snowshoes wet can result in the attachment of heavy globs of ice.
If you’re hiking with a dog, regularly check their paws for icing and make certain they are staying adequately hydrated and warm.
Be especially careful if conditions are icy Crampons and creepers/cleats only work if you stay on your feet.
If you are a beginner winter hiker, consider a group hike to learn more about trail conditions and preparation Many areas have a number of outdoor clubs that leads hikes throughout the year that are open to new hikers without having to become a member.
With proper planning, the right skills and the right equipment, one of the best ways to fight off winter’s cabin fever is to get out of the cabin and get into the woods!
- Jeff Senterman